Yesterday I ran my first timed Half-Marathon called the Joker’s Wild Half-Marathon. I finished 476 out of 512 people with a time of 2 hours, 51 minutes and 44 seconds. I wasn’t sure exactly what my time was when I finished because in all the excitement, I forgot to start my stopwatch right at the beginning of the race. I guesstimated I had been running for ten minutes when I started it, which actually turned out to be only six minutes instead of ten.
If you’re going to run a race, remember these two things: Stay hydrated and pee either before you get there or after the start line. I knew both these things but as timing goes, I had to pee right when they were getting ready to start. I saw that were 100 people in line and only five or six porta-potties so I decided to run to the first port-potty on the course. I got lucky, someone was coming out right when I got there. Sure it’s an extra 20 seconds, but if you’re slow already who cares about an extra 20 seconds if you can skip a five minute line? (And in case you didn’t know, in most timed races you can wait the five extra minutes in the bathroom line and not be penalized. Your time doesn’t start until you cross the start line. I just didn’t want to start in the very back and be there the entire time.)
At the eight mile marker, a storm whipped-up like a batch of witches brew, the wind blew through with gusts up to 60 mph and then the rain and lighting came. By the time I finally got to the finish line they had already taken down the big clock, so I had to check my official time online–2:51:44.
I’ve been doing my marathon training with the St. Louis Track Club and usually within the first five minutes of starting, I can no longer see any of the other club members. So it was nice that this time I was able to run along with other people. It’s totally different mentally when you run with a group of people on and off for several miles.
Until I ran this race I had no idea all the things your mind does to pull you through when you’re running. My officemate Ken told me that when he was in running cross-country, that one of the tricks they used was getting locked in and watching other people’s feet and, “That will pull you along.” I decided to use this method, except I modified the technique a bit when a woman in spandex ran by. I can’t tell you how many sweaty, giggly, butts I watched yesterday, but I would imagine it was dozens.
There was a group of four girls running a relay-race in tutus. I stayed by one of them throughout the entire race. At the end, three of them were waiting for their friend to finish and I heard one of them yell, “Hey there’s the guy,” which I assumed they were talking about me. When I got to the finish line my wife Tejal was waiting there, camera in hand. That was the nicest part of the whole race. As I was running I kept wondering where we’d meet after the race with so many people there. It was a huge relief to see her there waving and cheering me on.
I felt a bit overwhelmed when I crossed the finish line. My legs were so shaky that I could barely hold still for the volunteer to cut off the timing chip from my shoe.
There are things you would never know about until you actually do them. For instance, a non-runner would think you’d just have to put on your shorts and a pair of socks and shoes and go run. But when you’re running for distance, you do need socks and shoes, but they should be wicking socks and a good pair of running shoes that have preferably been custom fitted to your feet. Ever hear of body glide? It’s like a fancy deodorant that goes on your feet, in between your legs and even on your nipples. Don’t forget the hydration belt or hand held water bottle, then there’s the carbohydrate gels, sunscreen, iPod, sunglasses, a cooler with an electrolyte sports drink in it for after the run, a wicking shirt to run in and an extra shirt in your car to change into when you’re done. You’d never think of all these things until you’ve run some distance. But the best thing that was waiting for me at the end that I didn’t know about, besides my wife waiting to rescue me and drive me home, was the pancake and sausage breakfast that apparently is a tradition amongst racers.
This half-marathon was my Father’s Day present and I finally got to cash in. I even got two free breakfasts out of the deal: one at the race and then Tejal took me out for another one after my shower and she even let me off the hook for my normal Saturday morning chores. Guess I’ll have to sign up for more races, and soon, I have a deck to stain.